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Dumont paces Nashville past Columbus again

by Adam Schwartz
Goaltender Chris Mason made 29 stops as the Nashville Predators defeated the Central Division rival Columbus Blue Jackets for a 10th consecutive time, 4-1.
The Nashville Predators have the Columbus Blue Jackets’ number.

J.P. Dumont scored twice and added an assist, and Chris Mason made 29 saves as the Predators skated away with a 4-1 win over the Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena on Monday night. It marked the 10th consecutive time that Nashville has beaten Columbus, as the Predators knocked off their division rivals for the second time in three days.

The Predators are on a roll, as they’ve won seven of their past nine contests, which followed a demoralizing six-game losing streak.

With the win, the Predators (9-7-1) pulled even with the Blue Jackets (8-6-3) in the Central Division with 19 points. Both teams are only one point behind the Chicago Blackhawks, who have 20 points and are in second place in the Central Division, but remain a lengthy seven points behind the division-leading Detroit Red Wings, who are at the top of the Western Conference with 27 points.  

Early in the first period, after Nashville worked the puck along the boards behind the Columbus net, Jason Arnott zipped a centering pass from the right corner. Dumont got behind defenseman Adam Foote and tapped in his fifth goal of the season at 6:39.

Columbus forward David Vyborny tied the game just 15 seconds after Dumont’s goal, as he scored his first goal of the season when he swooped in on Mason and beat him with a wrist shot on an unassisted goal.

But the Predators were not done scoring in the first period, as Predators forward Martin Erat scored just his second goal of the season, when as he took a pass from fellow Predator forward Vernon Fiddler.

“He just outskated everybody on the ice,'' Dumont said of Erat. ''He was by far the best skater on the ice.''

With the Predators leading 2-1 in the third period, Blue Jackets defenseman Ole-Kristian Tollefsen tripped near his blue line without being touched. Arnott fed Erat for a shot, and Dumont jammed home the easy rebound at 11:43. 

Nashville coach Barry Trotz thought his team had some good fortune on Dumont’s second goal of the game.

“We had some good fortune when one of their defenseman fell down,'' Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. ''We were able to get some breathing room.''

Erat sealed the Predators’ victory when he scored his second goal of the game with 28 seconds remaining in the tilt, as he took a pass from Dumont and deposited the puck into the empty Columbus net, where Blue Jackets’ goalie Pascal Leclaire was pulled for an extra attacker.

"They won more battles and put more pucks in the net,” Blue Jackets center Ron Hainsey said.

“There are a few adjustments we need to make. A lot of it is competition related -- winning the little one-on-ones, which leads to the overall success of the team. We had one power play. Maybe that shows we weren't skating hard enough to make them slow us down."

Erat had a big night. In addition to scoring two goals, he also added two assists to give the Czech forward 15 points on the season. Mason stopped all but one of the Blue Jackets’ 30 shots and improved to 5-7-1 with the victory.

 “It can be a lot harder to win on the road, but our guys have bought into the style of play we have to play on the road in order to be successful,” Trotz said. “We have gotten a great all-around effort, with different contributions every night. They have really taken ownership of the team, the style of play, and that has allowed us to get back in the grouping of the Western Conference.”

After shedding salary by subtracting Scott Hartnell and Kimmo Timonen in the off-season many picked the Predators to have a tough time scoring goals this season including Dumont.

 ''We don't have as much scoring power as we did last year,'' Dumont said. ''We're going to need 20 guys every night.''

 Erat thinks his team can’t let up despite its recent success.

“We know we have to play hard for 60 minutes,'' Erat said. ''Nothing is for free in this League.

We paid the price for it and now we're just trying to move up in the standings.''

Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock was upset with his team’s performance on Monday night, as his club suffered its fourth straight loss.

“Our execution today was very poor,'' Hitchcock said. ''We struggled to make 10-foot passes.

We had a lot of tired looking players out there. It's not an excuse, it's just a reality of where we're at.''

Material from wire services was used in this report.
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